Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans



Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro.

Starring Ron Perlman, Dominique Pinon, Daniel Emilfork.
Fantasy, France, 112 minutes, certificate 15.

Released by Studio Canal on 4K and Blu-ray on April 3rd.


While it may lack the cohesive storytelling that went so well with their Gilliam-esque visuals in their debut DELICATESSEN, French writing and directing duo Jeunet and Caro’s follow up THE CITY OF LOST CHILDREN still has much to recommend it. The excellent remaster work done here on their sinister 1995 fantasy certainly highlights their imagination and ambition while revealing a myriad of details that went into every scene of the tale of a mad inventor kidnapping children to steal their dreams aided by a group of identical clones whilst a very young looking, redheaded Ron Perlman tracks them down to rescue his adoptive little brother.


Nearly thirty years on this is a film that still manages to impress with the fantastical visuals on display here. Whether it is the seamless split screen work of actor Dominique Pinon portraying half a dozen clones simultaneously onscreen, the screen warping quality of the nightmares that the children undergo at the hands of the mad scientist Krank, who bears more than a passing resemblance to Nosferatu, or the vibrant costume work of fashion designer/Eurotrash host Jean Paul Gaultier as well as the vast and detailed sets, this is a film that could easily be watched for the visuals alone.


As impressive as those visuals are, lensed by photographer Darius Khondji before departing Stateside to give David Fincher’s SE7EN its own distinctive look, the story fails to match up to its blackly comic predecessor DELICATESSEN, as mentioned before. This story, written before that striking tale of cannibalism, has an even more fantastical edge but lacks the tight focus that went along with its visual invention making it such a memorable debut. At times the film is pitched at a such a high pitch sometimes skirting with grotesquery that it comes across as a bit tiring over its near two-hour running time.


While flawed it never fails to entertain and it is good to be reminded of its existence which somehow seems to have gone under the radar since its release. For fans of Euro sci-fi cinema this is a film that is just as distinctive as THE FIFTH ELEMENT, released two years later and which also carries some of the same creative DNA. Watching this is a more than welcome reminder of the talent this creative duo had and has you wishing for them to reunite to see what else they could have given us in their own distinctive fashion.


Fans will be delighted with this remastering of the film. The distinctive green hue that pervades over the entire film has now been realised in a set of distinctive shades without giving the film a sickly look and feel. It is not hard to see how Hollywood was so impressed with what was on display here that Jeunet was enticed to depart his home country to direct ALIEN RESURECTION after this.


The special features are a little bit of a mixed bag. Behind the scenes footage consists of shaky camcorder footage presented without context while the archival interview with Gaultier is all too brief. More substantial and illuminating is the half hour interview with Jeunet and Caro offering insight and some entertaining gossip of what went into the making of this distinctive film and their own working relationship which sadly broke up after the film’s release. Jeunet also offers more anecdotal info on his solo commentary that goes onto explain his own tricks when coming to the complex work that went into it.


Iain MacLeod.


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Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans